Samsung TV Block will remotely brick looted and stolen TVs

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Although it's more trivial to steal something as pocketable as a smartphone, there are times when organized crime or angry mobs try to get away with even bigger products. Last month, South African towns and cities saw unrest turn into riots, which often results in mobs looting unprotected stores. That, of course, transforms into losses for affected retailers, so Samsung is implementing a new Television Block functionality to deter the theft and resale of stolen TVs by effectively bricking them.

Rallies and protests, even justified and well-meaning ones, always run the risk of having more violent elements in their midst. A peaceful can turn ugly at the slightest provocation, and mobs can turn into thieves when the opportunity arises. To protect retailers and indirectly protect consumers, Samsung is pushing its TV Block technology to shut down all functionality of stolen TVs.

It works similar to how stolen phones can be locked or even wiped, but the process doesn't start from the owner of the phone. When a Samsung TV connects to the Internet, its serial number is sent to the company's server and is checked if it was marked as stolen. If so, the blocking system kicks into action, and all functionality is disabled, making it useless.

Legitimate buyers whose TVs get blocked by mistake can appeal their case by sending proof of purchase and a valid TV license. Unfortunately, those buying from unauthorized resellers or the gray market might not have those details available, which doesn't protect them from crafty thieves who will try to get nonfunctional products off their hands for a quick buck. It also won't stop those thieves from taking the TV apart and use or sell the components separately.

Samsung believes that it is still enough to limit the incentive for looting and mitigate the creation of markets selling illegal goods. The TV Block technology is already pre-installed on all Samsung TVs and won't be limited to South African markets.